Written by: Pastor Robert Kayanja
It is a heart wrenching feeling that comes with the bad news of the passing of my dear friend, H.E. The President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza.
I talked to him on phone a number of days ago about the fake news that had been circulating on social media that his wife, Sister Denise Bucumi, had contracted COVID-19.
With a laugh, he told me that they were both free and that she was just receiving treatment for a condition which I had prior knowledge of. We then talked about the transition from the presidency to fathering and about the school I built in Kayanza province.
We also talked about the need to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and he told me about a crusade he was preparing for this weekend.
This man was a student of good change and was dedicated to see that kind of change in Africa’s poorest nation.
As his name was, Nkurunziza (Good news), so has he been to his country.
He built a revolutionary liberation movement and became the minister of good governance to his country.
Nkurunziza ushered the country into democracy when he organised and won the first democratic presidential elections ever held in Burundi.
This man was a fighter, liberator, leader, preacher, reformer, father of the nation, a sportsman and a coup d’etat crusher, yet my friend could not survive a heart attack! What happened?
I remember a time when I visited him with some friends from Asia. We were received by Ambassador Albert Nasasagare, who took us to lunch.
The president had a football match to play that day, so when we were taken to meet him, we found him in his boots and team jersey during halftime, yet still ready to strategies on national issues for his country. What a man!
￼A great gospel dancer and marvellous composer with songs such as Warakoze Imana Hari’ igihe nzokwilara nkurara I thank you ncurara-nguru daco. There is a time I will sit down and thank God.
He was a talent here on earth, so honourable and willingly gave to God. He has right now been recruited into the heavenly choir and he is there singing in Kirundi. My friend, sing! Mr Presido, wiicare.
Just before he came to close the meeting in Ngozi and to address the crowd, among whom miracles had taken place, a child who was badly crippled and whose mother sat in the market place using him as a beggar’s tool, was miraculously healed, stood up and walked — making the prophetic statement that the crippled Burundi could now walk.
My brother Pierre, as president, you broke the curse that plagued Burundi since independence, of constant bloodshed and political instability.
After having done all that, this is not the way to vacate. You did what the legendary Nelson Mandela did, but sadly, you have gone too soon. You are in my generation. Just three years younger than me.
After 400 years of African slavery, after you have seen the future of Burundi emerge, a few days after we had talked about what to do after the COVID-19 lockdown — this is not the way to vacate.
Did you know this was coming? Did you know you were leaving? You prepared your wife to be a pastor, your political party to honour God and your nation to practice democracy and continuity. Why does greatness disappear so quickly?
A vessel of Honour
I received a presidential invitation from President Nkurunziza to go and address Burundi’s cabinet on ‘the way forward for a growing nation’ and to hold a crusade for five days and a conference for four days in Ngozi. I took the best I had.
While there, the Lord told me to pick up a vessel — a bowl designed with glass and gold as an example to Burundi.
That Sunday evening, I presented it to the public and to the president, both as a revelation and also as a prophecy of where Burundi had been and where it was headed; to become a vessel of honour.
Nkurunziza has been a vessel of Honour. You have been the glass and gold vessel. Valuable and transparent.
In 55 years, you touched the world, you touched lives and you loved God.
A true friend
My friend, I remember the following year I was under severe attacks of terrible accusations by pastors and their recruits.
They even called you and told you how ‘evil’ I was, and advised you never to work with me again, but you refused to go by what they told you. Instead, you called and told me all about it. You loved and believed in me.
The very week I was heavily investigated, ridiculed and attacked, you invited me to Burundi and we broke ground for a new school. What a leader! What a man!
President Nkurunziza never called me pastor, not even Robert Kayanja. He called me ‘MY FRIEND.’
You visited our church, planted a tree and preached at the Miracle Centre Cathedral.
Your great wisdom, big footsteps, love for our Lord Jesus Christ, your solidarity for Africa and national patriotism for Burundi will be told for generations to come.
We will tell generations that you left Burundi much better than you found it.
Did you know this was coming?
Your last speech to government leaders was like Moses’ last words to Israel.
To my sister Denise, the former first lady of Burundi and a pastor, the Nkurunziza family, the nation of Burundi and her people, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. He will keep you and make His face shine upon you.
You have my prayers and Uganda loves you. My friend you did well, fare thee well.
Written by Robert Kayanja, Senior Pastor Miracle Centre Cathedral Church, Rubaga